While we were housesitting in Auckland, we decided to check out their aquarium. We figured it would be something nice to do on a wintery, overcast day. Its official name is Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium. They were kind enough to offer us free admission so we could review it.
Whenever you review a place, you always hope you’ll have positive things to say. Hope springs eternal, right?
Our underwhelming experience began with finding parking. They are woefully underequipped for a lot of visitors, so if you choose to drive there make sure you can handle walking a decent distance. They do, however, operate a free shuttle from downtown Auckland, so that might save you some headaches. Although finding parking near their pickup spot isn’t so easy either, and it definitely isn’t cheap.
If you plan on visiting, I would highly recommend purchasing your tickets online. Not only will you receive a 10%-20% discount, but if they’re busy the line for prepaid customers is MUCH shorter. So, it’s a win-win all the way around.
I did enjoy their entryway. They have created a fun optical illusion as part of their Scott Base exhibit.
The penguin exhibit is also entertaining, especially if you’re there when it’s feeding time.
And that’s kind of where the compliments end. Overall, we found the exhibits to be fairly uninteresting, at least for older kids and above.
Smaller children might enjoy the aquarium a bit more as there were some exhibits that were designed more for little ones. Like most aquariums, they do have a “touchpool” where visitors can touch some marine life.
They also have a tunnel with a moving walkway which provides a decent up-close view of some sharks and other creatures. If you’ve been on one of these before, though, you’ll find this one fairly unimpressive.
Although, I will give them props for having a preserved giant squid in a tank. That was kind of cool to see.
Ticket prices are pretty high in my opinion, but New Zealand tends to be more expensive for activities. The walk-up price for an adult (age 16 and above) is $36 NZD (almost $30 USD), but if purchasing tickets online, the rate starts at $28.80 NZD. Children’s tickets start at $14.40 NZD online.
If you are visiting with kids, check out their different family rates which could save you some cash.
The aquarium is open everyday with last entry being at 4 PM (and last shuttle pickup at 3:30).
Unless you are easily entertained, you don’t need to plan a lot of time to visit.
We have to give this one the highly undesired rating of snoozefest. As divers, we enjoy going to aquariums sometimes. We both love the underwater world and seeing the different creatures, many of which we’ve seen in the wild. Perhaps having visited several really good ones has tainted others for us, especially after having thoroughly enjoyed the aquarium in Kuala Lumpur.
However, I have to say this Sea Life Aquarium is mediocre at best. There are more interesting things to do in and near Auckland in our opinion.
Do you enjoy aquariums? Which was your favorite?